Sam Bennett says wrong decisions cost him a first Tour de France stage win and yellow jersey on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
The Irishman looked well-positioned to contest the sprint for the line, but couldn’t match the raw power of the Alexander Kristoff who powered to the stage win after a treacherous opening day.
“[It was a] dangerous day with the roads being so slippy,” Bennett said after the finish. “I tried my best, tried to stay safe but made a wrong decision in the final when Mørkøv went.
“I saw Stuyven and let him in, hoping he’d go early, but he waited too long to get a run at Michael [Mørkøv] and I should have really fought for my team-mate’s wheel and gone from there. I dropped the speed too much and had to try and accelerate again but it was too late.”
Miscues are to be expected after a year without as much racing as usual, and the rain on stage one also caused numerous crashes to add to the stress of riding the Tour.
“To be honest I was okay,” Bennett said of his day overall. “There was a crash, I broke a wheel, and then got a puncture on the climb…actually I was pretty good on the climb, the only problem is we then went easy to neutralise the descent and then more competitors came back. So I’d fought really hard to stay in the front, I could have taken it so much easier and then sprinted with fresher legs in the final.
“It was the right decision to keep everything safe but when you put the effort in you want the race to continue.”
While Bennett would have only spent a day in yellow with stage two tackling a couple of category one climbs, a handful more flat days will offer the Irishman the opportunity to take his maiden Tour stage win.